Side effect overload on drug labels has less to do with true toxicity and drug safety than with manufacturer liability. Examination of more than 5600 drug labels yielded over half a million side effects. An average drug label and the more commonly prescribed drugs averaged 70 and 100 side effects, respectively. The upper range in a single label was 525 reactions. Information overload can overwhelm physicians, who must weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing a medication. The Food and Drug Administration discourages such ‘over warning,’ but information overload is presently the rule rather than the exception. Not surprisingly, medications typically used by psychiatrists and neurologists had the most complex labels, while drugs used by dermatologists and ophthalmologists had the least. Although providing drug safety information more efficiently to both health care providers and the public is warranted, drug manufacturer liability concerns must also be addressed.
Source: Drug Discovery and Development